The Incredible Tucker

The Tucker automobile represented one of the last attempts by an independent car maker to break into the American automotive marketplace prior to WW II.  After Preston Tucker's attempt failed, the big three automobile manufacturers would dominate American market for almost 40 years.

During World War II, virtually all US automobile companies stopped automobile production and dedicated themselves to the manufacture of war machinery. By the end of the war, a great deal of demand had built up. Knowing this was an unusually good time to sell new cars, Tucker decided this was his chance to pursue his dream and, in 1946, founded the Tucker Motor Corporation.

Tucker had worked for years on remarkably innovative car designs and was ready to get things rolling. The first order of business was to obtain financing but Tucker soon discovered that securing loans from investors meant he would to give up a fair amount of control of his business. To Tucker, this was not a good option, he wanted to be in complete charge, so he began selling dealer franchises in advance of sales to raise cash. This attracted the attention of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Meanwhile, Tucker forged ahead with the design of his car. During Christmas 1946, he commissioned Alex Tremulis to design his first car, the "Tucker Torpedo".  By the spring of 1948, Tucker had a pilot production line for the Torpedo just started but realized that he was some $5 million short to keep it going. What did he do? He began a pre-purchase plan for Tucker automobile accessories such as radios and seat covers. This, of course, was before any cars were actually built!. Although he raised $2 million in advanced payments on these accessories, this was the final straw for the SEC and they soon shut him down.


Thus ended a remarkable chapter in automotive entrepreneurship, one that we will unlikely ever see again.

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